Picture: AP
Pretoria - JSE-listed financial services group Ecsponent said on Friday that a new focus on providing secured credit to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) had enabled it to perform well despite operating in a depressed economy.

Ecsponent’s comparative period to December 2015 reflected a predominantly retail, unsecured employee benefits credit business.

Going forward the group said it would focus on the core businesses, with its proven track record in SME funding, enterprise development and private equity investment.

The group operates in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Zambia.

Chief executive Terence Gregory said the group had showed success in its transition to providing secured business credit and was set to make inroads in the enterprise and supplier development sectors.

“Here the demand for credit remains buoyant as most emerging businesses battle to access funding,” said Gregory. “In addition to credit, our model provides skills transfer and upliftment of vendors, while supporting corporate businesses to channel their preferred procurement spending in areas where growth and development are most needed.”To drive its growth the group acquired 51percent of the ordinary share capital of Clade, which wholly own the shares of Exchange Trade Fund, effective from June 2016. It has category 2 and 2A investment licences with the Financial Services Board.

Read also: Ecsponent unit gets licence in Botswana

The group said following the change in its year-end from December to March, the following December 2016 results were referred to as the second interim results, which were compared with corresponding December 2015 period.

In the results the group reported an increase of 81.5 percent in revenue from continuing operations to R245 million compared with R135 million reported in 2015, while operating profits from continuing operations jumped by 198.3 percent to R129.3 million, up from R43.3 million reported a year before.

Total assets improved by 128.1 percent to R1.06 billion, while earnings per share were higher by 22.1 percent to 3.16 cents a share compared with 2.59c a share in 2015.

Recently the company also strengthened its board by adding two members.

George Manyere has been appointed to the board as non-executive vice-chairman and Willem Oberholzer as an independent non-executive director.